As we have repeatedly stressed, the discovery of large gas fields off the coast of Israel, Cyprus, Egypt and Lebanon, has meant that the Eastern Mediterranean plays an important role in the geopolitics of energy. in the deep offshore it is only profitable in the long term and presents significant technical and economic challenges. Not only that: the political power that governs this area of the eastern Mediterranean rests with three authorities with whom it is necessary to deal, whose economic interests may diverge in the time. This reality puts a strain on the future prospects of this area, at least until the political dimension has been resolved in a secure way.
Large deposits of natural gas have been discovered in the EEZs of Egypt, Israel and Cyprus. The smaller EEZs of Syria and Lebanon have yet to be explored or confirmed. These discoveries in the eastern Mediterranean would have potential reserves of the order of 3.5 trillion cubic meters of gas, of which about half are proven reserves equivalent to those still available for Norway after thirty years of supply from the European Union. In particular, almost at the same distance from the coasts of their country, are the three deposits of Zohr (Egypt), Leviathan (Israel) and Aphrodite (Cyprus) respectively with proven reserves of 850, 450 and 140, for a total of 1,440 billion. of cubic meters. The leaders of these three countries came together to consider a common solution to commercialize this gas for export. There has been talk of the construction of an underwater gas pipeline to Greece and Italy, which would be a direct competitor of the Azerbaijani gas that crosses Turkey.
At the same time, the governments of Turkey and Libya have demarcated their EEZ borders, invading the EEZs of the countries listed above, creating additional sources of uncertainty and legal complications. Finally, Turkey’s show of strength by sending seismic vessels in preparation for exploration operations in the Greek EEZ only added to an already tense geopolitical climate. All these factors of uncertainty and potential conflicts are not conducive to the development of gas production in this area of the eastern Mediterranean. This situation does not prevent Egypt and Israel from producing, consuming and exporting gas from fields near their coasts, the ownership of which is not in question.
We come now to Turkey. It must be emphasized that there is a geographical misunderstanding: the great discovery announced on 21 August 2020 by President Erdogan is not located in the Mediterranean, but in the Black Sea. This is the Sakarya field located about 170 kilometers north of the Turkish coast. with a water depth of 2,110 meters and a total depth of 4,775 meters. According to public information, it was discovered by drilling a single well, the Tuna-1, carried out by the exploration ship Fatih (“the conqueror”, in Turkish). The reserves, initially announced at 800 billion cubic meters, were revalued by the operator TPAO (Turkish Petroleum Corporation) to 320 then to 405 billion cubic meters on 17 October 2020. A second Turkali 1 drilling is scheduled for November. A second exploration vessel, the Kanuni (“the legislator” in Turkish) is about to reach the Black Sea.
Sakarya has the advantage of being close to the Turkish market. If produced, its gas will supply the Turkish market, strengthen the country’s security of supply and improve its trade balance.
However, putting Sakarya into production in 2023 is a goal that ignores the timing of the gas industry. This finding will need to be confirmed before moving on to the design and construction of the production phase facilities of the project.
Let us not forget that Turkey’s ambitions are multidimensional and multifaceted. They have a direct impact on Europe from the Atlantic to the Caucasus via the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Obviously the geopolitical and religious dimensions take precedence over the others, and it is not clear whether they have their own strategic dimension or are simply tactics. That said, energy ambitions are very legitimate for any country, especially when it comes to security of gas supply.
Turkey’s gas supply is between 45 and 50 billion cubic meters per year; it is well diversified. The gas arrives west from the Turk Stream, which will gradually replace the historical route through Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria, north from the Blue Stream across the Black Sea at a depth of 2,000 meters, to the east from the border with Iran and to the north- east from the border with Georgia for Azerbaijani gas. In addition, two terrestrial LNG terminals (Izmir Aliaga, Marmara Ereglesi) and two floating LNG terminals (Etki and Dörtyol) have a total reception capacity of around 25 billion of cubic meters, of which only half is used, which leaves considerable flexibility; they receive liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Algeria, Nigeria, Qatar and other sources, most recently shale gas from the United States.
As for the TANAP (Trans Anatolian Pipeline) recently put into service, 6 billion cubic meters per year of Azerbaijani gas will transit in a first phase to Greece, which represents just over 1% of the needs of the European Union. . This is what remains of the “Southern Corridor” project, once studied under the name “Nabucco”, promoted by the European Union to reduce the Russian influence in the gas supply.
In short, these discoveries of large natural gas fields have determined an evident conflict, exacerbating the geopolitical problems already existing in a region that is certainly not simple from a geopolitical point of view.
We think of the fact that Israel is at war with Lebanon and the two countries do not agree on the course of their respective exclusive economic zones (EEZs); Syria is in ruins, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues and the question of a possible EEZ for Gaza remains; Turkey still occupies the northern part of Cyprus, denies the island the right to have an EEZ and calls into question the Treaty of Lausanne which established, in 1923, the Greek-Turkish borders and finally, Libya is destabilized and at war civil, with foreign interventions that further complicate the stability of the region.
These discoveries considerably modify the energetic destiny of the states bordering the Levantine basin. Israel becomes a natural gas exporting power, Egypt initially meets its needs and plans to become a regional energy hub, Cyprus relies on its natural resources to achieve the reunification of the island. Similarly, Lebanon and Syria could consider exploiting their respective resources; Lebanon granted the first research / exploitation licenses and Syria did the same to the advantage, not surprisingly, of Russian companies. And once again Turkey plays a decisive role in this game.
But returning to Turkey, the occupation of the northern part of Cyprus (since 1974) is one of the components of the question. The novelty comes from Turkey’s reaction to the possibility of Cyprus exploiting the natural resources located in its EEZ. We recall that Cyprus delimited its EEZ with Egypt and Israel, signed with Lebanon and was in talks with Syria (before the conflict) on the basis of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982). The island then granted research / exploitation agreements to various companies. The American company Noble Energy, the Italian-Korean consortium ENI-Kogas, the French Total, alone or in joint venture with ENI, and the American ExxonMobil ally of Qatar Petroleum have obtained the licenses.
Turkey, for its part, claims that Cyprus, like all islands in the Mediterranean, does not have an EEZ. Ankara, which does not recognize the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, has an arbitrary position on the subject, a position of its own: it believes that the islands have no EEZs in closed or semi-enclosed seas. .
Despite Turkish threats to oil companies working with Cyprus, there have been numerous exploratory drillings in the country’s EEZ and significant discoveries of natural gas in exploitable quantities: Noble Energy (discovery of a field containing 100 to 170 billion cubic meters of natural gas in block 12), ExxonMobil with Qatar Petroleum (from 170 to 230 billion cubic meters in block 10) and ENI with Total (large field not yet quantified in block 6).
Faced with these findings, Turkey has become even more aggressive, sending exploration and drilling vessels into Cypriot waters, accompanied by warships. Turkey carried out eight illegal polls in the EEZ of Cyprus. Apply the tactic of encirclement in Cyprus by constantly maintaining pressure on it, with, ultimately, full control of the island. His latest provocation, apart from the almost constant invasion of his EEZ, was the opening to exploitation and finally the colonization, on 8 October, of the closed quarter of Famagusta, a port city emptied of its population in 1974 and left by a ghost city.
In conjunction with the threat to Cyprus, a growing threat to Greece is growing. Since 10 August 2020, Turkey has deployed its seismic ship Oruç Reis, accompanied by naval military forces, to the Greek maritime space, up to the coast of Crete, forcing Greece to do the same. Greece, France, Italy and Cyprus conducted a joint military exercise in the Eastern Mediterranean from 26 to 28 August, sending a clear message on the willingness of these countries to uphold respect for international law.
According to a statement by the French Ministry of Armed Forces, “Cyprus, Greece, France and Italy have decided to deploy a joint presence in the Eastern Mediterranean as part of the quadripartite cooperation initiative”. The Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, further specified that the Mediterranean “must not be a playground for the ambitions of some; it is a common good “.
The Turkish president specified on her part: “We will absolutely not make any concessions on what belongs to us. We urge our counterparts to […] beware of any mistakes that could pave the way for their undoing. Then he added: “Turkey will take what is rightfully its own in the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean […]. For this, we are determined to do whatever is necessary politically, economically and militarily.” The speech is was pronounced during a ceremony commemorating the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, which marks the entry of the Turks into Anatolia, following the victory of the Seljuk Sultan Alp Arslan over the Byzantines. The navies of the two countries are on the verge of clash August a Greek ship collides with a Turkish ship.
To the already complicated situation, Turkey has added a new element related to the Libyan conflict. Since the fall of Colonel Gaddafi, Libya has entered an area of instability in which many actors with diverging interests have submerged. Egypt, supported by the Emirates and Saudi Arabia, supports Marshal Haftar, who controls Cyrenaica. Russia is also in this field. On the contrary, Turkey, backed by Qatar, supports the Sarraj government, which controls the Tripoli region. Taking advantage of this support, Turkey signed two agreements (November 27, 2019) with the Tripoli master. One military, the other seafarer. The maritime continental shelf delimitation agreement between the two countries completely ignores the existence of Cyprus, Crete and other Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. Furthermore, Erdogan’s desire to gain a foothold in the African continent and change the geopolitical situation in this area upsets many other international actors. Libya is for Turkey, one of the “entrances” to this space, hence his desire to establish permanent bases in this country.
This explosive geopolitical situation shows the need to develop cooperation in this troubled region. Cooperation between Cyprus, Greece and Israel quickly took shape. Others followed, involving Egypt and Jordan, again with the participation of Cyprus and Greece. Italy and France are also very present for the involvement of ENI and Total, but also to protect this common vital space that is the Mediterranean.
The signing, in early January 2020, of an interstate agreement between Israel, Cyprus and Greece, for the construction of the EastMed submarine pipeline, is one of the ambitious plans of this cooperation. At a cost of around 7 billion euros, this pipeline would allow the delivery of Cypriot and Israeli gas to mainland Greece, via Crete, and beyond to Italy and Western Europe (between 9 and 11 billion cubic meters / year, corresponding about 15% of European energy consumption in natural gas). Although economically this project is costly, geopolitically it is of utmost importance for building Europe’s energy independence. It should also be noted that in January 2019 the countries of the region created the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum, which aims to manage the future gas market – a coalition that includes Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Egypt, Italy, Jordan and Palestine. Turkey denounces that this could threaten its interests. However, three other positive developments occurred during the summer of 2020: Greece proceeded with the delimitation of its EEZ with Italy and Egypt and this delimitation, based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, obviously recognizes a EEZs for the islands.
Finally, the European Council reaffirms in its conclusions of 2 October 2020 its solidarity with Cyprus and Greece, specifying that sanctions would be adopted against Turkey if the latter continued to violate the EEZs of the two EU member countries ; Ankara immediately rejected the decision, saying its eastern Mediterranean research program would continue. Especially since the Oruc Reis is still in Cypriot waters and that Turkey has decided to open the closed district of Famagusta to exploitation, certainly for the purpose of imminent colonization, and this in violation of all the resolutions of international organizations. Turkey’s continued pressure on Cyprus is not only intensifying dangerously but Turkey is engaging in a lucid political projection of maritime power.
The hydrogen revolution: A new development model that starts with the sea, the sun and the wind
“Once again in history, energy is becoming the protagonist of a breaking phase in capitalism: a great transformation is taking place, matched by the digital technological revolution”.
The subtitle of the interesting book (“Energia. La grande trasformazione“, Laterza) by Valeria Termini, an economist at the Rome University “Roma Tre”,summarises – in a simple and brilliant way – the phase that will accompany the development of our planet for at least the next three decades,A phase starting from the awareness that technological progress and economic growth can no longer neglect environmental protection.
This awareness is now no longer confined to the ideological debates on the defence of the ecosystem based exclusively on limits, bans and prohibitions, on purely cosmetic measures such as the useless ‘Sundays on which vehicles with emissions that cause pollution are banned’, and on initiatives aimed at curbing development – considered harmful to mankind – under the banner of slogans that are as simple as they are full of damaging economic implications, such as the quest for ‘happy degrowth’.
With “degrowth” there is no happiness nor wellbeing, let alone social justice.
China has understood this and, with a view to remedying the environmental damage caused by three decades of relentless economic growth, it has not decided to take steps backwards in industrial production, by going back to the wooden plough typical of the period before the unfortunate “Great Leap Forward” of 1958, but – in its 14thFive-Year Plan (2020- 2025)-it has outlined a strategic project under the banner of “sustainable growth”, thus committing itself to continuing to build a dynamic development model in harmony with the needs of environmental protection, following the direction already taken with its 13th Five-Year Plan, which has enabled the Asian giant to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 12% over the last five years. This achievement could make China the first country in the world to reach the targets set in the 2012 Paris Climate Agreement, which envisage achieving ‘zero CO2 emissions’ by the end of 2030.
Also as a result of the economic shock caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Europe and the United States have decided to follow the path marked out by China which, although perceived and described as a “strategic adversary” of the West, can be considered a fellow traveller in the strategy defined by the economy of the third millennium for “turning green”.
The European Union’s ‘Green Deal’ has become an integral part of the ‘Recovery Plan’ designed to help EU Member States to emerge from the production crisis caused by the pandemic.
A substantial share of resources (47 billion euros in the case of Italy) is in fact allocated destined for the “great transformation” of the new development models, under the banner of research and exploitation of energy resources which, unlike traditional “non-renewable sources”, promote economic and industrial growth with the use of new tools capable of operating in conditions of balance with the ecosystem.
The most important of these tools is undoubtedly Hydrogen.
Hydrogen, as an energy source, has been the dream of generations of scientists because, besides being the originator of the ‘table of elements’, it is the most abundant substance on the planet, if not in the entire universe.
Its great limitation is that in order to be ‘separated’ from the oxygen with which it forms water, procedures requiring high electricity consumption are needed. The said energy has traditionally been supplied by fossil – and hence polluting- fuels.
In fact, in order to produce ‘clean’ hydrogen from water, it must be separated from oxygen by electrolysis, a mechanism that requires a large amount of energy.
The fact of using large quantities of electricity produced with traditional -and hence polluting – systems leads to the paradox that, in order to produce ‘clean’ energy from hydrogen, we keep on polluting the environment with ‘dirty’ emissions from non-renewable sources.
This paradox can be overcome with a small new industrial revolution, i.d. producing energy from the sea, the sun and the wind to power the electrolysis process that produces hydrogen.
The revolutionary strategy based on the use of ‘green’ energy to produce adequate quantities of hydrogen at an acceptable cost can be considered the key to a paradigm shift in production that can bring the world out of the pandemic crisis with positive impacts on the environment and on climate.
In the summer of last year, the European Union had already outlined an investment project worth 470 billion euros, called the “Hydrogen Energy Strategy”, aimed at equipping the EU Member States with devices for hydrogen electrolysis from renewable and clean sources, capable of ensuring the production of one million tonnes of “green” hydrogen (i.e. clean because extracted from water) by the end of 2024.
This is an absolutely sustainable target, considering that the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that the “total installed wind, marine and solar capacity is set to overtake natural gas by the end 2023 and coal by the end of 2024”.
A study dated February 17, 2021, carried out by the Hydrogen Council and McKinsey & Company, entitled ‘Hydrogen Insights’, shows that many new hydrogen projects are appearing on the market all over the world, at such a pace that ‘the industry cannot keep up with it’.
According to the study, 345 billion dollars will be invested globally in hydrogen research and production by the end of 2030, to which the billion euros allocated by the European Union in the ‘Hydrogen Strategy’ shall be added.
To understand how the momentum and drive for hydrogen seems to be unstoppable, we can note that the Hydrogen Council, which only four years ago had 18 members, has now grown to 109 members, research centres and companies backed by70 billion dollar of public funding provided by enthusiastic governments.
According to the Executive Director of the Hydrogen Council, Daryl Wilson, “hydrogen energy research already accounts for 20% of the success in our pathway to decarbonisation”.
According to the study mentioned above, all European countries are “betting on hydrogen and are planning to allocate billions of euros under the Next Generation EU Recovery Plan for investment in this sector”:
Spain has already earmarked 1.5 billion euros for national hydrogen production over the next two years, while Portugal plans to invest 186 billion euros of the Recovery Plan in projects related to hydrogen energy production.
Italy will have 47 billion euros available for “ecological transition”, an ambitious goal of which the government has understood the importance by deciding to set up a department with a dedicated portfolio.
Italy is well prepared and equipped on a scientific and productive level to face the challenge of ‘producing clean energy using clean energy’.
Not only are we at the forefront in the production of devices for extracting energy from sea waves – such as the Inertial Sea Waves Energy Converter (ISWEC), created thanks to research by the Turin Polytechnic, which occupies only 150 square metres of sea water and produces large quantities of clean energy, and alone reduces CO2 emissions by 68 tonnes a year, or the so-called Pinguino (Penguin), a device placed at a depth of 50 metres which produces energy without damaging the marine ecosystem – but we also have the inventiveness, culture and courage to accompany the strategy for “turning green”.
The International World Group of Rome and Eldor Corporation Spa, located in the Latium Region, have recently signed an agreement to promote projects for energy generation and the production of hydrogen from sea waves and other renewable energy sources, as part of cooperation between Europe and China under the Road and Belt Initiative.
The project will see Italian companies, starting with Eldor, working in close collaboration with the Chinese “National Ocean Technology Centre”, based in Shenzhen, to set up an international research and development centre in the field of ‘green’ hydrogen production using clean energy.
A process that is part of a global strategy which, with the contribution of Italy, its productive forces and its institutions, can help our country, Europe and the rest of the world to recover from a pandemic crisis that, once resolved, together with digital revolution, can trigger a new industrial revolution based no longer on coal or oil, but on hydrogen, which can be turned from the most widespread element in the universe into the growth engine of a new civilisation.
Jordan, Israel, and Palestine in Quest of Solving the Energy Conundrum
Gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean can help deliver dividends of peace to Jordan, Israel, and Egypt. New energy supply options can strengthen Jordan’s energy security and emergence as a leading transit hub of natural gas from the Eastern Mediterranean. In fact, the transformation of the port of Aqaba into a second regional energy hub would enable Jordan to re-export Israeli and Egyptian gas to Arab and Asian markets.
The possibility of the kingdom to turn into a regional energy distribution centre can bevalid through the direction of Israeli and Egyptian natural gas to Egyptian liquefaction plants and onwards to Jordan, where it could be piped via the Arab Gas Pipeline to Syria, Lebanon, and countries to the East. The creation of an energy hub in Jordan will not only help diversify the region’s energy suppliers and routes. Equal important, it is conducive to Jordan’s energy diversification efforts whose main pillars lie in the import of gas from Israel and Egypt; construction of a dual oil and gas pipeline from Iraq; and a shift towards renewables. In a systematic effort to reduce dependence on oil imports, the kingdom swiftly proceeds with exploration of its domestic fields like the Risha gas field that makes up almost 5% of the national gas consumption. Notably, the state-owned National Petroleum Company discovered in late 2020 promising new quantities in the Risha gas field that lies along Jordan’s eastern border with Iraq.
In addition, gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean can be leveraged to create interdependencies between Israel, Jordan, and Palestine with the use of gas and solar for the generation of energy, which, in turn, can power desalination plants to generate shared drinking water. Eco-Peace Middle East, an organization that brings together environmentalists from Jordan, Israel and Palestine pursues the Water-Energy Nexus Project that examines the technical and economic feasibility of turning Israeli, Palestinian, and potentially Lebanese gas in the short-term, and Jordan’s solar energy in the long-term into desalinated water providing viable solutions to water scarcity in the region. Concurrently, Jordan supplies electricity to the Palestinians as means to enhancing grid connectivity with neighbours and promoting regional stability.
In neighbouring Israel, gas largely replaced diesel and coal-fired electricity generation feeding about 85% of Israeli domestic energy demand. It is estimated that by 2025 all new power plants in Israel will use renewable energy resources for electricity generation. Still, gas will be used to produce methane, ethanol and hydrogen, the fuel of the future that supports transition to clean energy. The coronavirus pandemic inflicted challenges and opportunities upon the gas market in Israel. A prime opportunity is the entry of American energy major Chevron into the Israeli gas sector with the acquisition of American Noble Energy with a deal valued $13 billion that includes Noble’s$8 billion in debt.
The participation of Chevron in Israeli gas fields strengthens its investment portfolio in the Eastern Mediterranean and fortifies the position of Israel as a reliable gas producer in the Arab world. This is reinforced by the fact that the American energy major participates in the exploration of energy assets in Iraqi Kurdistan, the UAE, and the neutral zone between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Israel’s normalization agreement with the UAE makes Chevron’s acquisition of Noble Energy less controversial and advances Israel’s geostrategic interests and energy export outreach to markets in Asia via Gulf countries.
The reduction by 50% in Egyptian purchase of gas from Israel is a major challenge caused by the pandemic. Notably, a clause in the Israel-Egypt gas contract allows up to 50% decrease of Egyptian purchase of gas from Israel if Brent Crude prices fall below $50 per barrel. At another level, it seems that Israel should make use of Egypt’s excess liquefaction capacity in the Damietta and Idku plants rather than build an Israeli liquefaction plant at Eilat so that liquefied Israeli gas is shipped through the Arab Gas Pipeline to third markets.
When it comes to the West Bank and Gaza, energy challenges remain high. Palestine has the lowest GDP in the region, but it experiences rapid economic growth, leading to an annual average 3% increase of electricity demand. Around 90% of the total electricity consumption in the Palestinian territories is provided by Israel and the remaining 10% is provided by Jordan and Egypt as well as rooftop solar panels primarily in the West Bank. Palestinian cities can be described as energy islands with limited integration into the national grid due to lack of high-voltage transmission lines that would connect north and south West Bank. Because of this reality, the Palestinian Authority should engage the private sector in energy infrastructure projects like construction of high-voltage transmission and distribution lines that will connect north and south of the West Bank. The private sector can partly finance infrastructure costs in a Public Private Partnership scheme and guarantee smooth project execution.
Fiscal challenges however outweigh infrastructure challenges with most representative the inability of the Palestinian Authority to collect electricity bill payments from customers. The situation forced the Palestinian Authority to introduce subsidies and outstanding payments are owed by Palestinian distribution companies to the Israeli Electricity Corporation which is the largest supplier of electricity. As consequence 6% of the Palestinian budget is dedicated to paying electricity debts and when this does not happen, the amount is deducted from the taxes Israel collects for the Palestinian Authority.
The best option for Palestine to meet electricity demand is the construction of a solar power plant with 300 MW capacity in Area C of the West Bank and another solar power plant with 200 MW capacity across the Gaza-Israel border. In addition, the development of the Gaza marine gas field would funnel gas in the West Bank and Gaza and convert the Gaza power plant to burn gas instead of heavy fuel. The recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Palestinian Investment Fund, the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) and Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC) for the development of the Gaza marine field, the construction of all necessary infrastructure, and the transportation of Palestinian gas to Egypt is a major development. Coordination with Israel can unlock the development of the Palestinian field and pave the way for the resolution of the energy crisis in Gaza and also supply gas to a new power plant in Jenin.
Overall, the creation of an integrating energy economy between Israel, Jordan, Egypt, and Palestine can anchor lasting and mutually beneficial economic interdependencies and deliver dividends of peace. All it takes is efficient leadership that recognizes the high potentials.
The EV Effect: Markets are Betting on the Energy Transition
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has calculated that USD 2 trillion in annual investment will be required to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement in the coming three years.
Electromobility has a major role to play in this regard – IRENA’s transformation pathway estimates that 350 million electric vehicles (EVs) will be needed by 2030, kickstarting developments in the industry and influencing share values as manufacturers, suppliers and investors move to capitalise on the energy transition.
Today, around eight million EVs account for a mere 1% of all vehicles on the world’s roads, but 3.1 million were sold in 2020, representing a 4% market share. While the penetration of EVs in the heavy duty (3.5+ tons) vehicles category is much lower, electric trucks are expected to become more mainstream as manufacturers begin to offer new models to meet increasing demand.
The pace of development in the industry has increased the value of stocks in companies such as Tesla, Nio and BYD, who were among the highest performers in the sector in 2020. Tesla produced half a million cars last year, was valued at USD 670 billion, and produced a price-to-earnings ratio that vastly outstripped the industry average, despite Volkswagen and Renault both selling significantly more electric vehicles (EV) than Tesla in Europe in the last months of 2020.
Nevertheless, it is unlikely this gap will remain as volumes continue to grow, and with EV growth will come increased demand for batteries. The recent success of EV sales has largely been driven by the falling cost of battery packs – which reached 137 USD/kWh in 2020. The sale of more than 35 million vehicles per year will require a ten-fold increase in battery manufacturing capacity from today’s levels, leading to increased shares in battery manufacturers like Samsung SDI and CATL in the past year.
This rising demand has also boosted mining stocks, as about 80 kg of copper is required for a single EV battery. As the energy transition gathers pace, the need for copper will extend beyond electric cars to encompass electric grids and other motors. Copper prices have therefore risen by 30% in recent months to USD 7 800 per tonne, pushing up the share prices of miners such as Freeport-McRoran significantly.
Finally, around 35 million public charging stations will be needed by 2030, as well as ten times more private charging stations, which require an investment in the range of USD 1.2 – 2.4 trillion. This has increased the value of charging companies such as Fastnet and Switchback significantly in recent months.
Skyrocketing stock prices – ahead of actual deployment – testify to market confidence in the energy transition; however, investment opportunities remain scarce. Market expectations are that financing will follow as soon as skills and investment barriers fall. Nevertheless, these must be addressed without delay to attract and accelerate the investment required to deliver on the significant promise of the energy transition.
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